Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday (Dec. 23) ordered the expansion of the Russian naval base in the Syrian port city of Tartus, according to the Russian media.
The expansion of the naval base comes days of the capture of the Syrian city of Aleppo by the Russian-backed Syrian forces. This comes also four days after the assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov on December 19.
Russian news agency Sputnik quoted the Kremlin’s website as reading: “Vladimir Putin signed a decree on signing the agreement between the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic on expanding the territory of the Russian logistics centre in the port of Tartus and on the arriving of Russian ships at the territorial sea, national waters and ports of the Syrian Arab Republic.”
The Russian Defense Ministry announced plans in October to establish a permanent naval base in the western Syrian port city of Tartus where it has been keeping a small naval maintenance and support facility since 1977, Sputnik said.
Tellingly, the Kremlin announced the expansion of Tartus base while Putin was addressing a press conference in Moscow on Friday. The French news agency AFP described the move as flexing muscle by Putin.